How the hell do you use fresh ginger?
Fresh ginger is a flat-out amazing flavor. It’s one of those tastes that makes you really wonder how you got by on frozen foods for so long. It makes you want to try making Ginger Chicken, because with the power of fresh ginger, you bet you can totally knock the block off that cloying, sugary junk they serve at the Drive-Thru Hunan Palace on the corner. It kind of makes you WANT TO COOK, because you know that you can make something incredibly delicious.
But even though it is widely available in the produce aisle, ginger can look kind of intimidating to somebody who hasn’t dealt with it before. It’s this knobby, woody, warty root of a thing, and novice cooks are more likely to just buy the dried powdery stuff from the spice rack.
Even if you do go ahead and buy a hunk 1, you’ll run into a whole new passel of problems. So the recipe calls for 1 inch of ginger, chopped. Ummm… do I peel it? This bark stuff isn’t edible, is it? What the hell do I do with the other eight inches of this thing? Why won’t it chop?? It’s all fibrous like WOOD, is it supposed to be this way?! I’ll just go ahead and throw it in, it’ll be fine… OH GOD I BIT INTO A CHUNK OF GINGER THAT DIDN’T GET CHOPPED UP FINE AND MY HEAD IS ENGULFED IN HELLFLAME
Your experience may vary.
My point is, fresh ginger can be frustrating if it’s not something that you use every day. Chopping it was an exercise in madness, and since I used ginger maybe once every couple of weeks, three quarters of the knob would go bad before I ever got the chance to use it. Money and opportunity down the drain. 2 I used dried and powdered ginger for a good long while, knowing all along that this… stuff… was not providing any real flavor. Not any flavor I wanted to actually have in my mouth, anyway.
So I was venting my frustration to my sister, who is a more amazing cook than I could ever hope to be. She cocked an eyebrow. ‘Why don’t you just freeze it?’ 3
‘But then it’s all fiber-ey and you can’t really chop it…’
‘That’s why you grate it. Just throw the whole root into the freezer and microplane off however much you need.’
WORLD. BLOWN. I clutched at excuses. ‘But… what about the peel?’
‘I never peel it. The bark stuff just gets grated along with everything else. The tougher bits of the bark kind of back up with the grater. It doesn’t matter, you don’t even have to worry about it.’
So today’s SNAAK is: FRIRMGH! (FReeze gInger Rhizomes for Maximum Grating and Health)
It’s so ****ING EASY. I don’t even bother washing the root. 4 I just bring home a whole knob of ginger from the store, toss into a freezer bag, and freeze. When I need it, I pull it out, use a knife to make a nick at one inch or two inches or whatever, and grate down to that point. Rebag, back into the freezer with it. NOTHING. No CHOPPING, no WEIRD STORAGE in EARTH or ALCOHOL, no ANYTHING. Freeze. Great. BAM. BUH-DAOW.
- OF GINGER ↩
- That’s like $750 in the tubes, when you figure in a decade of 7% yearly gains in a well-diversified Vanguard mutual fund… ↩
- Conversation has been edited for dramatic purposes and also because I don’t remember whole conversations because I’m not Rain Man. ↩
- It’s good for the immune system. ↩
- Because everybody loves a big ol’ plate of sectum… ↩
- Or curry powder, or Indian Spice Blend, or whatever you choose to call it. I’m concerned with taste and convenience here, not regional gastronomical accuracy. ↩